DIXIE DREGS

Fusion • United States
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One of the top jazz-rock fusion ensembles ever, the Dixie Dregs combined virtuoso technique with eclecticism and a sense of humor and spirit too frequently lacking in similar projects. Guitarist Steve Morse and bassist Andy West played together as high-school students in Augusta, GA, in a conventional rock band called Dixie Grit. When Morse was expelled from school for refusing to cut his hair, he enrolled at the University of Miami School of Music, where he met violinist Allen Sloan, who had played with the Miami Philharmonic, and drummer Rod Morgenstein. The three decided to form a band, and Morse convinced West to come to Miami and join. the Dixie Dregs completed their lineup with keyboardist Steve Davidowski. Their first album, The Great Spectacular, was recorded for a class project in 1975 and later released by the band (it is long out of print). Following graduation, the quintet began playing read more...
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DIXIE DREGS Discography

DIXIE DREGS albums / top albums

DIXIE DREGS The Great Spectacular album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
The Great Spectacular
Fusion 1975
DIXIE DREGS Free Fall album cover 3.33 | 3 ratings
Free Fall
Fusion 1977
DIXIE DREGS What If album cover 4.01 | 7 ratings
What If
Fusion 1978
DIXIE DREGS Dregs of the Earth album cover 3.33 | 3 ratings
Dregs of the Earth
Fusion 1980
DIXIE DREGS Unsung Heroes album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Unsung Heroes
Fusion 1981
DIXIE DREGS Industry Standard album cover 3.33 | 3 ratings
Industry Standard
Fusion 1982
DIXIE DREGS Full Circle album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Full Circle
Fusion 1994

DIXIE DREGS EPs & splits

DIXIE DREGS live albums

DIXIE DREGS Night of the Living Dregs album cover 3.96 | 4 ratings
Night of the Living Dregs
Fusion 1979
DIXIE DREGS Bring 'Em Back Alive album cover 3.33 | 3 ratings
Bring 'Em Back Alive
Fusion 1992
DIXIE DREGS Dixie Dregs: King Biscuit Flower Hour album cover 3.95 | 3 ratings
Dixie Dregs: King Biscuit Flower Hour
Fusion 1997
DIXIE DREGS California Screamin' album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
California Screamin'
Fusion 2000
DIXIE DREGS From The Front Row... Live! album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
From The Front Row... Live!
Fusion 2003

DIXIE DREGS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

DIXIE DREGS re-issues & compilations

DIXIE DREGS The Best Of The Dregs: Divided We Stand album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
The Best Of The Dregs: Divided We Stand
Fusion 1989
DIXIE DREGS 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Dixie Dregs album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Dixie Dregs
Fusion 2002
DIXIE DREGS Dregs album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Dregs
Fusion 2007

DIXIE DREGS singles (0)

DIXIE DREGS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.93 | 2 ratings
Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival
Fusion 2005

DIXIE DREGS Reviews

DIXIE DREGS What If

Album · 1978 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Despite the uninspiring cover art and a band name that has always led me to believe that they were in a musical category akin to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet or even the Allman Brothers, I was absolutely shocked to find out that the DIXIE DREGS were nothing of the sort. Although progressive bluegrass is included in the mix, what we have here is a very eclectic mix of styles and moods comprising a most magnificent musical gem. Steve Morse has always been referred to as one of the greats in the guitar world, yet most of the things i've heard from him have left me lukewarm at best. I guess the secret to understanding all the praise is to go back far enough into his discography before the watered down versions of the greatness appeared.

WHAT IF is the absolute perfect place to start. This was love at first listen with only the first and third tracks taking me several listens to appreciate but now they have weaseled their way into my soul and are stuck there until the great decomposition of body and mind occurs. This album is absolutely phenomenal in how progressive it is. It is labeled as jazz fusion and to be fair there is plenty of that going on particularly in a Mahavishnu Orchestra type of way but there are classical guitar pieces, bluegrass, Kansas type rockers and moments of calmness. Every track is impressive and my favorite idiosyncrasy of this band is how they play out a passage by alternating instruments to finish riffs and fills. A kind of lightning fast call and response that serves as the backbone for the melodic whole. Impressive album indeed that I never get tired of. It just keeps getting better after repeated listens. A perfect marriage of melody and technicality.

DIXIE DREGS Dixie Dregs: King Biscuit Flower Hour

Live album · 1997 · Fusion
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Chicapah
Back in the wide-open 70s there were always renegade rumors skittering hither and yon about some new guitar wiz who’d just popped up on the radar and most of these urban legends turned out to be grossly exaggerated affairs. But when it came to Steve Morse and his dangerous Dixie Dregs outfit the buzz was warranted. Yet being associated with the southern regions of the states and the dubious moniker “Dixie” in particular didn’t exactly conjure up images of the jazz/rock fusion giants like John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola who’d blazed a scorching trail through popular music so the uninitiated were inclined to approach their work with some trepidation. However, within just a few seconds of hearing Steve and his cohorts ply their wares one had to agree that this was something worth paying attention to. By the time their third album, the outstanding “Night of the Living Dregs,” came out all doubt about their abilities had been effectively squashed flat as a stink bug. They were the real deal.

Sometime in 1979 they played a set for the widely syndicated King Biscuit Flower Hour radio program, thus spreading their unique sound into unsuspecting ears the world over and enhancing their reputation. As were many of those tapings, it remained confined to bootleg status for a long time until it was packaged properly and released on CD in 1997. It’s a good thing, too, because the concert captures their unbridled spirit quite well. The recording is very intimate and close up, eschewing studio tricks and embellishments that would often make less-talented bands appear to be better than they actually were. This is more like sitting in a tiny bar, being dazzled by the eclectic combo set up on the little stage in the corner.

After a brief introduction, some reassuring feedback leads to “Freefall,” an incredibly tight, progressive jazz/rock fusion tune that will pin your ears back against your noggin. You are immediately struck by the level of individual virtuosity this ensemble possesses in spades. Rod Morgenstein’s frantic drums start “Country Horse,” an engaging song owning a playful melody that rolls around in your head like a mental whirlwind. The playing is so tasteful it makes you drool. For “Moe Down” Rod’s inventive drumming provides a great change of pace moment early on in the show. The group incorporates a combination of bluegrass and Irish folk influences into the number with highly satisfying results. There’s a mirthful élan surrounding this tune that’s irresistible. “Ice Cakes” follows and it’s one of those instrumentals that’s impossible to label, it’s that eccentric. Morse’s style has so many affectations in it, garnered from his noble heroes and mentors, that it’s an adventure just listening to him perform. It’s obvious that they were admirers of the stupendous Mahavishnu Orchestra but they weren’t a copycat band at all. They had their own way of doing things. “Travel Tunes” is next, a rocker with entertaining quirks that give it a spunky character. Steve shreds like an electric sander on a quilt.

They then play a rousing version of “Night of the Living Dregs.” It’s one of their signature numbers and they tear it up with glee. Andy West’s bass solo is exceptional and I really get a kick out of how Morse and electric violinist Allen Sloan work in tandem with each other on the central melody line. “Night Meets Light” is so good it’s not to be missed. This song shows that they had a softer, more delicate side but don’t worry, there’s nothing pretentious about it. You can tell there’s a genuine cooperative imagination present amongst the members. Sloan’s violin and T. Lavitz’s synthesizer conjure up a very serene atmosphere during the first half, while the latter section achieves true magnificence as the instruments dance around each other in an intricate aural choreography. “Punk Sandwich” marks a return to their more rowdy, hard-driving instincts. Everyone gets to get their ya-yas out on this one but I’m most intrigued by the fact that they don’t have to rely on ear-splitting volume to get the job done. “Cruise Control” is another highlight. It’s hot rock & roll poured over a funky bass line that’ll twist your curlies. As a unit they zip right along at light speed but they fudge nary a beat as they take turns glamming the folks in attendance and out in Radioland. You gotta admit that there’s some pretty damn astonishing stuff going on between these guys. They end with “Take It Off the Top,” a killer encore tune that touches every conceivable base.

In essence, if you’re a fan of impossible-to-duplicate jazz/rock fusion and also enjoy hearing it played expertly in a live setting then this is your ticket to Nirvana. These boys took a back seat to no one and they consistently fed off of each others’ enthusiasm as they pushed the limits of what they could accomplish every time they alit on the stage. At least that’s what it sounds like to me as evidenced by this scintillating performance caught for posterity.

DIXIE DREGS Night of the Living Dregs

Live album · 1979 · Fusion
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Chicapah
The stereotypical caricature of a white Anglo Saxon male residing anywhere south of the Mason/Dixon line of demarcation in the United States is that of a crimson-necked, tobacco- chewing, Chevy truck-owning, gimme cap-wearing, boot-scooting, snaggle-toothed, Merle Haggard-loving Bubba who thinks Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" guitar orgy represents rock & roll at its finest. Most of the civilized world thinks we're all like that but I'll have you know it's not a fair assessment. I have it on good authority that at least 1% of us don't fit any of those close-minded descriptions and the very existence of the Florida-based band Dixie Dregs proves beyond any reasonable doubt that those of us of the more "cosmopolitan" persuasion are apt to get downright radical and adventurous with our music. So there! I'll admit that being a member of such a microscopic-sized minority tends to make one tight-lipped about sharing his listening preferences since rumors of Miles Davis tee shirt-clad fellows being lynched in roadside pecan trees have yet to be dispelled. Better to spit and utter an occasional "yeehaw" than to be identified as a jazzer, in other words. Life is safer and more secure around these parts if we aural revolutionaries opt to err on the side of caution. Having said all that silly gibberish I confess to being a blatant hypocrite because I've never heard a single note from this brave group of virtuosos until just a few weeks ago when I picked up this pre-owned LP on a whim. I certainly knew of them and that they weren't your average whisky-swillin' Tallahassee bar band but, for one strange reason or another, chose to callously ignore them for decades. My bad. If this album is representative of what they've been up to during their career then I've stupidly deprived myself of the kind of jazz/rock fusion magic that gets my adrenaline pumping every time I'm exposed to it. These guys are the real deal and they don't take a back seat to anyone in their esteemed genre. Their audacity to remain stubbornly true to themselves in defiance of the deeply-rooted regional tastes and preferences that surround them on every side alone is worthy of respect. But I suspect they don't want or need our pity because they do a remarkable job of cutting a fiery swath through the rural countryside that rivals that of Sherman's Union army as they marched ruthlessly toward Atlanta.

These boys grab you by the lapels from the get go with "Punk Sandwich," a boisterous, hard rockin' number that'd be right at home either at a fusion convention or a NASCAR race in the Carolinas. It features a crisp, clean but very strong guitar beginning and a slew of stinging accents and kicks performed with astounding tightness. Solos from Steve Morse's guitar, Allen Sloan's violin and Mark Parrish's Hammond organ all sizzle and you're instantly made aware of why Mr. Morse perches permanently with the upper echelon of fusion guitar gods. His regal reputation is not empty hype. When the tune ended with a big, fat synthesizer note I knew I was in for more treats to come. Rod Morgenstein's rumbling drums and percussion at the opening of "Country House Shuffle" is a nice surprise that leads directly to an intriguing, optimistic melody pattern that makes me envision the Mahavishnu Orchestra on mood-enhancing medication. The seamless cohesion of the arrangement is exceptional and Steve delivers a song-ending guitar ride that would make even the legendary Jeff Beck raise an eyebrow.

"The Riff Raff" makes it three aces in a row as this contemplative violin/classical guitar piece displays the vastness of this combo's range and acumen. It's a complex composition that doesn't take short cuts and, in the process, sounds like nothing else on the album. Makes it very hard to stick a convenient label on this band's work. I love lone piano intros and Parrish doesn't disappoint during his brief stint in the spotlight for the onset of "Long Slow Distance." While jotting down notes for this tune I tried to come up with another I could compare it to but I was stumped. These creative musicians carved out their own unique niche with songs like this. Steve's acoustic guitar lead proves that he's not just some crank-it-and-shred-like-a-jigsaw gunslinger and the whole group is constantly aware of the supreme importance of erecting structural melodies inside their art. The track slowly fades away with Morse and Parrish trading head-spinning licks as they disappear over the distant horizon. Delightful.

If not for the applause of the discriminating '78 Montreux Jazz Festival crowd it would be difficult (if not impossible) to discern that the rest of this album was taped live from the stage. Yep, they're that good. "Night of the Living Dregs" has an undeniable Return to Forever vibe running through it and that's okay except that Andy West's solo, despite being a decent enough bassist, makes it crystal clear that he's not in Stanley Clarke's league (few are) and it's a bit of a Dreg drag. Yet I must offer praise for the way the band deftly blends all the different instruments together without a causing a nasty pileup. The group- penned "The Bash" (a variation of the bluegrass staple "The Wabash Cannonball") is next and the audience eats it up like free ice cream. I've always been a sucker for guitarists that can play fast (even though being able to do so is no indication of great skill necessarily) because in my 30+ years of string strummin' I never came even close to being called "Sir Speedy." You either have it or you don't and Morse has it in spades as he demonstrates here. Sloan's violin valiantly tries to keep up with him but Steve blazes a trail constantly while summoning a variety of tones from his axe. You may deem this tune hokey as cornbread dressing but I think it's awesome fun.

"Leprechaun Promenade" is rather schizophrenic. It waffles between soothing, laid back contemporary jazz grooves and sudden onslaughts of sharp, dynamic, edgy riffs that keep you guessing from start to finish. It's a conglomeration of ideas that have no business hanging out with each other but somehow they dance in perfect harmony. Fascinating stuff. "Patchwork" is the closer and if there's such a thing as good 'ol boy southern fusion rock this is its anthem. They miraculously manage to draw inspiration from their down home influences without patronizing or glorifying them and the song has so many cool nooks and crannies to gaze into as it flows by there's never a dull moment to be endured. These five men are a frickin' force of nature.

Since all but one of the tunes was written by Steve Morse it's apparent that this is his baby but I never got the impression that he considers himself to be the star of the show. This, in every aspect of the term, is a band effort. Specifically, they're individual masters of their respective instruments who know how to cooperate and present a united front. Needless to say, I'm blown away and now wish I'd seen the light about these Dixie renegades a lot earlier. "Night of the Living Dregs" gets my highest 4-star rating only because I don't know if this is their masterpiece or not but I intend to explore them further and it's not inconceivable that I may come back and add that fifth star in the future. This is exceptional fusion fare, folks.

DIXIE DREGS The Best Of The Dregs: Divided We Stand

Boxset / Compilation · 1989 · Fusion
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M.Neumann
Curious newcomers looking for a taste of southern-fried fusion will find more than enough here to whet their appetite, but don't be fooled by the record-biz hyperbole. No way is this single-disc sampler really "the best" of the (formerly Dixie) Dregs, and with a miserly running time of only 44 minutes it's hardly the most representative collection, either.

First the bad news: there isn't anything new here for the dedicated Dreghead. Ninety percent of what's being sold on the CD as the band's best music is from just three albums ("Dregs of the Earth", "Unsung Heroes", and "Industry Standard"), spanning only a limited two-year recording period, from 1980 through 1982. (The remaining selection is a scorching update of the classic rocker "Take It Off the Top", originally the kickoff to their 1978 album "What If".)

But as a beginner's guide to the group's heavy blend of instrumental Jazz-Rock (in truth more Rock than Jazz), it can be an indispensable primer. Just about everything you need to know about The Dregs is included: the impeccable musicianship, powered as always by the lightning lead guitar of Steve Morse; the dynamic interplay of keyboards and electric fiddles; and of course the inevitable hillbilly barnyard stomper (here it's the aptly titled "Pride O' the Farm"), without which any Dregs collection would be incomplete.

All three of the highlighted albums were Grammy Award nominees, but don't let that scare you away (for the true musical artist, winning a Grammy must be like getting a pat on the back from your accountant). There's enough good music here to build a springboard toward the rest of the greater Dregs catalogue. If you like what you hear, by all means take the plunge.

DIXIE DREGS Movies Reviews

DIXIE DREGS Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival

Movie · 2005 · Fusion
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Slartibartfast
This was the Dixie Dregs lineup that I first come to know live and otherwise. The Montreaux Jazz Festival performance was used for side two of the LP Night of the Living Dregs. I had no idea the concert was filmed. This represents the band at their prime. Keyboardist Mark Parrish, would soon be replaced by T Lavitz, who is a better keyboard player, but this as this performance testifies, he was no slouch either. Oddly enough, the back cover of this DVD shows a band picture with the original keyboardist from Freefall, Steve Davidowski (guess there was only room for one Steve in this band). Steve Morse was at his most inspired around this time, even though he has certainly grown in skill over the years.

The set list is a little disappointing as it lacks some of the prime cuts from What If (Night Meets Light, Odyssey, Travel Tunes, What If), but I'm not complaining. Now I have something more than just memories of the many Dregs shows I saw back then. It is more of a forward looking set which includes Attila The Hun, that didn't show up on an album until three years later. Also of note, but of less interest to progressive rock fans, is the bluegrass style ditty, Kathreen, never released on a regular album, but only showed up on their demo album, The Great Spectacular, from 1975. If you have a copy of that album, you have something rare, indeed.

Thrown in for bonus are two live TV appearances, one on American Can'tstand (Bandstand) and one on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. On the former, you get to see them both try out a vocalist, in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and with Mark O'Connor, who only played with them for one album, but a few great live shows before the band disbanded for a few years.

As great as the band studio albums were, the live shows took things to an even higher level. Now you can see what you missed, unless you didn't.

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